When Internet-based shopping started becoming a major component of retail purchases, many people predicted the demise of the catalog. While Hodges has been on board the online surge (our new website is still in the works- you’ll see it soon, we promise!) and many of our customers order online, we still create seven new market-specific catalogs each year.
So why are our catalogs still in demand?
- You can take them with you, or keep them on hand for a reference at your fingertips.
- People still share our catalogs and pass them among friends.
- Show committes, organizations and groups may meet to decide their ribbon and award order outside of an office setting. Last I checked, a lot of barns were still waiting for wireless internet access.
- Many online orders are still placed with a catalog in hand. This may be because it’s easier for customers to peruse a wide variety of products in print than online.
- Catalogs are getting more environmentally friendly by the day, ours included. According to the American Catalog Mailers Association, more paper is recycled than any other material, and the paper industry is a leader in using renewable energy.
Given the points above, we realize catalogs are not for everyone. We update our mailing lists daily to ensure we are not sending duplicates or copies to customers who have requested not to receive them.
So what do you think? Do you enjoy getting our catalog or does it end up in the recycle bin? We’re open to your comments!
I had the great fortune of being invited to the 9th annual Merit Direct B2B conference in Westchester, NY last week. I got to leave the office and spend a couple of days thinking about how one should be running a business during times that are really not very good for the US economy. Just to rub it in, while I was there, the RI Public Utilities Commission raised electricity rates 21.4%. Ugh.
There were about 175 people there representing all sizes of B2B companies, all involved in direct mail. Many of the subjects were similar to the topics that we discuss at NEMOA, but given the B2B focus of everyone in the room, the focus was a little different – and there were all kinds of new companies to meet.
Don Libey gave a great speech on day 2, focusing on the view from 35,000′ – or where he sees the catalog industry heading. He was clear to point out that he sees no fall off in globalization. Companies will get better at shipping internationally (because they have to) and trade will increasingly bypass the middle man. As if to make the point, we lost an order for drug free ribbons to China today (our first ever), but we have a european supplier who wants us to ship ribbons directly to Finland – bypassing his warehouse in Sweden.
One observation I made is that there were few (if any) manufacturers in the room and that vertical markets are the exception rather than the rule. Most companies were making less than 5% of what they sell. Also most catalogs were broad shot amalgamations of products. Carefully calculated to get the most shopping bang for the buck. Does this work? We tried it once and it didn’t work well at all. All that means is that it doesn’t work for us.
A number of pleas were heard for catalogers to join the ACMA (American Catalog Mailer’s Association). This little group has already saved the cataloging industry over $150,000,000 (that’s 150 million dollars folks) on postage through their lobbying efforts. Please pay your share, and pony up some money to help with the lobbying efforts. We did.